London

London knife crime: Government and Sadiq Khan decline TV debate

knife wars audience
Image caption The special TV debate show was hosted by Tina Daheley

Sadiq Khan has been criticised for not taking part in a special BBC TV debate on knife crime in London.

During the programme a grieving uncle described the issue as "a civil war running on our streets".

The audience also felt knife crime was not the Mayor of London's "number one priority" as suggested by Sophie Linden, his deputy mayor for crime and policing.

She said Mr Khan could not attend due to a "long-standing commitment".

The Mayor of London had said he would only take part if the government did so, and despite London Minister Nick Hurd agreeing to take part - he pulled out.

Instead, Conservative MP for Sutton and Cheam Paul Scully joined Ms Linden and the Met's Deputy Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons.

Image copyright PA
Image caption London Mayor Sadiq Khan could not attend due to a "long-standing commitment"

The focus of the debate centred around discussing the causes and how to put a stop to the amount of violent deaths in the capital which has risen to its highest level in a decade.

In 2018 London saw 134 homicides - one of those victims was Sami Sidhom who was stabbed to death in east London.

His uncle, Saher Sidhom, felt there was "not enough intervention, prevention or deterrents from the beginning of the process from when our children feel this is their only choice."

During the debate one mother, Sharon Kendall, whose 18-year-old son Jason Isaacs was stabbed to death in November 2017, met with the trauma surgeon who operated on her son and tried to save his life.


Image caption Paul Scully MP, presenter Tina Daheley, Met Police's Mark Simmons and deputy mayor for London crime and policing Sophie Linden

At the debate

Katharine Carpenter BBC London's Home Affairs correspondent

Young people came determined to have their voices heard and to hold those in charge of policing our city to account.

Sophie Linden acknowledged funding challenges, but insisted cutting knife crime is City Hall's top priority and due to get a boost from the violence reduction unit.

Amongst the audience there was some scepticism about how effective the authorities can be in solving knife crime.

But in the room, there was no shortage of ideas.


The special programme - London's Knife Wars - will air on Wednesday 23 January on BBC One at 22:45 GMT.

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